By Dabney Carr
In a July 31 decision, the Federal Circuit reversed Judge Claude Hilton's claim construction in an Eastern District of Virginia patent infringement suit relating to software that enables one computer to access another computer over the Internet. 01 Communique Lab., Inc. v. LogMeIn, Inc., No. 2011-1403 (Fed. Cir. July 31, 2012) found here.
The patent at issue disclosed the use of a "locator server computer" which includes software referred to as a "location facility." The location facility creates a connection between a "remote computer" and the computer to be accessed, called a "personal computer," by receiving a request for communication from the remote computer, locating the personal computer and then creating a communication channel between the two remote computers.
In claim construction, Judge Hilton concluded that the location facility must be contained on a single physical computer and granted summary judgment of non-infringement because the system used by the accused infringer, LogMeIn, did not contain a single component that performed all the functions of the claimed location facility.
Judge Hilton's "single computer" construction was based primarily on a perceived disclaimer in the prosecution history. At the Federal Circuit, LogMeIn made four arguments in support of that construction:
The 01 Communique decision illustrates the Federal Circuit's ongoing willingness to re-write District Court claim constructions, particularly for cases involving software or other high-technology patents. While respectful, the Federal Circuit clearly thought that Judge Hilton's reference to the location facility as a "device", rather than software, indicated a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the patented system which led to an erroneous claim construction.
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